Chemicals in Self-Care Products Linked to Early Puberty in Girls

Exposure To Cosmetics Soaps Causes Early Puberty in Girls Says Studies

"While more research is needed, people should be aware that there are chemicals in personal care products that may be disrupting the hormones in our bodies", Harley said.

A recently published study in the journal Human Reproduction has concluded that certain chemicals used in cosmetics, particularly shampoo and perfume, can indeed cause girls to hit puberty faster.

Early puberty in children has been linked to behavioural problems, earlier sexual activity, elevated stress and increased risk of breast cancer in later life.

A chemical called diethyl phthalate, used in perfumes and cosmetics and only banned by the European Union in significant concentrations this year, could lead girls to start puberty months earlier than the average, research found.

Reference Association of phthalates, parabens and phenols found in personal care products with pubertal timing in girls and boys.

"We also found that girls with higher levels of parabens in their bodies at the age of nine entered puberty earlier", claimed Harley. Boys were seemingly unaffected by prenatal exposure to the chemicals, according to the study.

The study found children started puberty earlier if their mothers were exposed to triclosan, which is found in some antibacterial handwashes and toothpaste.

Girls who had higher concentrations of parabens in their urine at age 9 also experienced puberty at younger ages.

The study went back as early as the year 1999 by a team of researchers led by Dr. Kim Harley of the University of California.

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The mothers were pregnant they were interviewed at around 14 and 27 weeks' gestation and urine samples were taken in order to measure concentrations of phthalates, parabens and phenols.

Pubertal development was checked again every nine months between the ages of nine and 13. The researchers then studied the concentration of three phthalate metabolites and four phenols in the urine collected from these mothers during pregnancy and from the children during age nine.

For every doubling of triclosan in the mothers' urine, the timing of the girls' first menstrual period shifted earlier by just under a month. Chemicals like phthalates are the main culprits. While this is thought to interfere with sex hormones and puberty timing, few studies have explored this connection in human children.

With every doubling of the concentration of the chemical in the urine of the pregnant women, their daughters underwent puberty 1.3 months earlier on an average.

While the harsh chemicals are taking its toll on young females, the study found the elements did not impact on the development in boys.

The effects of the chemicals on oestrogen may be why girls are more affected.

Most had no high school diploma and lived below the U.S. federal poverty threshold. "We need to know how these chemicals are affecting our health". However, it is unclear if the chemicals were causing the shift, or if girls who reached puberty earlier were more likely to start using personal care products at younger ages, Harley said.

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